art-phone video mock-up (1st attempt)


whilst filming for this short interaction example, various problems cropped up. notably…

  • need a suitable stand for telephone.
  • light beam not visible on camera.
  • existing artwork lighting to dark for filming.
  • more information can be communicated in film.
  • pretty boring and simplistic in general

…2nd filming session will attempt to address these problems.

the dark arts

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a swift cycle around town, looking for potential spots to locate “art-phones”

art-phone prototype

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started by trying to connect two arduinos via bluetooth… using sena shields, failed due to the lack of a ‘jig board’ or ‘dev board’ or ‘the required knowledge’.

xbee is maybe a better option… but for the purposes of the prototype and within the time constraints… wireless another time.


the above photos show the progression in realising this aim.

  • hacking a phone.
  • using its push button to control a LED.
  • trying to use a transistor as a switch to power a DC motor.
  • using a relay as the switch instead.
  • creating a working circuit at low power (12v)
  • swapping the motor for an LED floodlight.
  • plugging the circuit into the mains.
  • being scared of turning on the power.
  • turning on the power.


MIP – public artworks map

I have begun to create a map showing the locations of public artworks within the city centre. This will hopefully help me decide on locations of proposed spotlight and trigger sites. (It may also be a useful online resource in its own right)

Newcastle Public Art Map

MIP – MapPhone development & brainstorm

Above is an image i created for the initial presentation for the media in public module… the idea was a simple one… creating a “batphone” style system that would increase awareness of artworks in the city centre and aid navigation to said artworks. The basic premise is that members of the public would encounter some trigger mechanism at a given point in the city, for instance a phone on a stand or a big red button… when the phone is picked up or button pressed a bright spotlight would illuminate next to an artwork in the city. Ideally this would be visible form the trigger point and from a large surrounding area, thus drawing peoples attention to the lit up part of the city. As i have said this is a simple idea, but I like it, and from my preliminary questioning of some night-time users of the city, it seems the system would be a welcome feature in the city.

I would now like to list areas of development within the project for my own benefit and for feedback and suggestions from blog readers (your thoughts are greatly appreciated!)

Important features of this system.

  • Areas of engagement for artworks are multiplied and spread over the city.
  • Allows the public to be connected to artworks.
  • Acts as a navigational device.

Trigger Issues.

  • Location (busy? quiet? visual line of sight? relationship with illuminated artwork? …what is important?)
  • Information at trigger  – audio information through phone “by picking up this phone you have illuminated [artwork] and increased its visibility” or “Thankyou for your interest in [artwork]” “This phone has been picked up [number] times.” etc.written information by phone (instructions? directions? purpose?.
  • Object – i like the phone… familiar to people, existing affordances, red phone (playful)


  • Wireless. (arduino to arduino communication – Bluetooth/Xbee/Wifi (Bluetooth solution seems simplest and most effective and cheapest WIN)
  • Distance – technical limitations and line of sight limitations, directly affects trigger location (blessing in disguise?)


  • Cost of powerful light? (£10,000 budget do-able surely…?)
  • Alternatives – lasers (research needed) – LED beacons?
  • Spotlight most aesthetically pleasing – sketch picture but too much but flood lights could be effective.

Aims for the immediate future (before the presentation)

  • Make a working example of batphone system (phone/switch/bluetooth/light on…. sounds almost too easy!)
  • Technical sketch diagram of example and scaled up project.
  • Identify locations of artworks and triggers and plot on map with photos (night).
  • User test of trigger.
  • (that sounds like enough fro the time being.)






Media in public Assign 7


The first article focus on an interesting question “what are we producing”, different needs, and how to deal with the differentiation between the process of production and usage of material. The second one is a representative idea of “little change save the world”, just change the google’s background to black would save lots of power, amazing! The third article related to the topic “materialism” and let me come up with some interesting examples too, but still need some time to get familiar with this part.

And as a quick development of the streetlight (unnoticed thing) if I get some solar devices and needn’t worry about the power, I come up with to install some pray wheel on the body of streetlight (to make the streetlight’s body part don’t totally disappear because the bulb draws too much attention).

The pray wheel on the streetlight needn’t use hand to make it move, but it could detect you and start to run automatically. When it is shinning in the sunshine, how beautiful they would be? Especially there lots of streetlights.

Media in Public Assign 8


Sky message board

When we are looking at the sky upon this city through our mobile phone’s camera, what could we would we like to see? I asked some people “If you could write a short sentence in the sky and everyone living in newcastle could see it, what will you write? what the colour was it?” (Thanks Jamie and Michael’s advice, I’ve tried michael’s advice like Red Building, actually that part is really interesting, but I’m still suspect if I could do that – because I’m not sure the speed of the cellphone could deal with it and the control part, like how to build it also puzzled me :-), but thank you very much!)

Then what I got are:
1. Hello world! (Several answer like this came from a programer group…)
2. I wish XXX love me forever! (Pink)
3. I could defeat everything! (Golden)
4. I wish everyone seen this word could find their happiness. (Red, Big Smill)
5. Be humorous and relax, you could win~ (Red)
6. I love Newcastle!
7. Keep your head in the clouds. (Purple)
8. Keep calm and carry on. (Yellow)
9. Have a lovely day ! (Yellow)
10. I will be a star! (Orange)
11. Stay positive (Pink)
12. Peace! (White)
13. Olive! (White)
14. Love (Red)
15. Happy Mothers Day~ (Pink)
16. Love and Peace (Purple)
17. Love and Peace (Pink)
18. I wish it as sunny and warm today. (Yellow)
19. We are all under the same sky. (White)
20. The sky is beautiful every time. It doesn’t mattered is sunshine or rain. It’s something what I like. The Sky always makes me happy. I don’t think about my troubles, problems. When I am looking on the sky, I feel free and full relaxed.
21. I’m leaving you (Depends on the light)

Then I think the sky message board could have 2 function, the second one is based on the first one.

1. Send message for special people.
One day, Marry received a message from her boyfriend, “Look at the sky over the city centre!”(it could be also the location of the sender)  She ran the app “Magic city”, used the camera of the phone to look at the sky, and found the big “I love you” made by the clouds floating on the sky, like this:

(The same with the original idea)

Also, their some pictures of skywriter, the effect would be similar.


2. For everyone (Optional)
One day, Pengfei is taking photo for him self alone, like this:

Isn’t it a little silly?
Now, we could do this:
1. The cellphone would judge if you are angry or smile (or just input the keywords, like “smile”, “angry”, or maybe “food”)
2. Based on the sky message board online data, we could get a photo like this~

Is it great?
This idea is similar to the danmaku video like this:
and the poster like this:

(To make it here:

Also I got a interest point, it is likely when you are taking photos outside of a restaurant, the word cloud would be “Delicious!””Swallow my tongue!” or “Peaceful”. From commercial point, it could also be developed.

Everything needed are a mobile phone and net access, I’m still working on how could the software system work, like:

1. Import the Google earth map (Use the 2D model or 3D model like what streetview use?)

2. Calibration (make the map and the view calibrated)

3. Send and Receive message. (based on Twitter or?)

4. (Optional) Use wordnet to adapt a simple classification method to make every message sorted by “happy” and “unhappy”, based on the facial expression recognized by cellphone (if possible) or the keywords imputed “smile” to the cellphone.

5. (Optional) How to deal with the color of the sentence, changed time by time based on the sunlight? still? simple animation? Transparent?

Mobile Media Development

Outlined the technicalities of my Mobile Media project, which I’ve decided to call “Key to the City”. Excuse the crude format, I’m a fairly sketchy person and I’m in Scotland this week without my graphics tablet, so I wanted to do it by hand rather than crudely with a mouse. This is very much a first draft though, so expect a neater, more resolved version soon.

As you can see, it’s pretty simple. It’s not very complicated in terms of technical details, which will hopefully make it easy to implement. I also drafted a user scenario – again, still to be neatened up!

In terms of equipment and materials, here is my current spec (to make one working prototype):
1 x key
1 x RF receiver
6-8 x RF transmitters
1 x on/off switch
1 x vibration component
1 x battery

On the prototype front, I’m aiming to have one key working, picking up signals from approximately 6-8 transmitters. I’ll need to do a bit more work first, but if I can’t get the aesthetics I’m aiming to achieve, I suspect I’ll make a functioning prototype and and experience/aesthetic prototype.

MIP – solar LED

for the latest media in public assignment, we were asked to consider energy use within public space projects. i have found exploring sustainable energy sources an inspiring and interesting research area (i shall continue to wander down this path)

so for the assignment we were asked to sketch a public space art/design project that had no energy constraints… my initial proposal to the council involving several huge spotlights around the city, and with the additional connectivity to whatever controller is appropriate… this is a pretty power hungry project!

the other option was to create “a solar panel and hacked mp3 player to build a public-space messaging box.” wsn’t really sure what this meant (and i didn’t have an old mp3 player) so i bought a solar powered garden light from poundland, and started thinking about small energy friendly projects. having removed the solar panel and connected LED (see photo above) the light only turns on when it is dark (or when you cover the solar panel with your hand)… so i started to think about spaces in the city that are dark, or are regularly made dark, during the day in a city.

  • bike seats – light turns on when you sit down on the seat (not necessary during the day)
  • beer mats – when drink is placed on top beer mat is dark (what would an appropriate message or effect be?)
  • the road at traffic lights – particularly underneath buses (messages could appear on roadside LCDs – pro cycling messages?)
  • inside toilets – bit grim a location really…
  • benches – when people sit down, solar panel goes dark (again what would be the result of this?)

i am continuing to think of locations, and what the stored energy could be used for… not sure of the voltage, but its not going to be high (1.5v…3v max?) i would like to develop this sustainable energy supply, and hopefully use energy harvesting to power my prototype for the city council project.

(that might be a little bit too ambitious/expensive!)


Three ways to use Kinect in processing

I have got 3 ways to use Kinect, 1 is based on libfreenect, 2 are based on OpenNI.



Shiffman’s library:


1. Use processing wrapper

2. Via OSC in processing (Max&MSP) to read the data produced by OpenNI

This method could makes OpenNI applied in many platform because OSC (Open Sound Control) is widely supported now.